Last year Codemasters regained the top spot with F1 2016 after having a couple of disappointing releases in previous instalments, and after improving massively last year, we were really excited when we buckled up to test this year's version, and see for ourselves whether they'd continued in pole position or slipped to the back of the pack.
F1 2016 took us by storm with a new and improved career mode, but there was still a lot of room for improvement, so we were pretty disappointed to see there hadn't been any major additions on this front this time around. Small elements like challenges in historic cars have been added, but everything from the staff to the annoyingly long conversations (which you still can't interact with) are still the same as before. Also, like last year, the staff doesn't change appearance regardless of which team you decide to sign for, which is a bit grating despite being a minor issue.
What Codemasters has done well, on the other hand, is the single-player content of the game, as a new mode named Championship gives you a lot more options for entertaining if you get bored by the career mode (or complete it). Here, different competitions with various settings and restrictions give the game a much longer lifespan than if you were just sitting down to the career mode, and is the perfect things to keep F1 fans on their toes.
The visual side of F1 2017 is a step up from last year as well. The cars and the surroundings look just as good as they did last year, but the studio has also managed to spend some time fine-tuning the looks of the graphics outside the arenas. It's not a very important part of the game of course, but it gives it a better feel overall, and increases immersion, especially since the rest of it looks so sleek.
Rainy weather was a challenge last year, but Codemasters has finally found the solution to make the game flow just as nicely during a thunderstorm as it does in the blazing sunshine. Sadly for this reviewer, though, the feel of the tarmac was a lot worse for us during rainy weather. The dynamic weather and extremely precise approach between tire grip and weather conditions makes F1 2017 a game that F1 fans will love, though, as well as fans of racing simulation in general.
The game pleases as much on the ears as it does on the eyes, too, as the audio quality is excellent throughout. You might want to adjust the volume level to make the messages from your mechanic clear over the engine sound, but the messages you receive are precise and the engine sound is as genuine as it gets, which is pretty important for a game that prioritises realism so much.
One noteworthy omission from the game yet again is local multiplayer, something we would have certainly appreciated. Being able to race with friends is something you expect from racing games these days, and its absence again is disappointing.
To sum it up, this version is pretty much the same as last year, but with a few tweaks. Small improvements keep its grade the same as last year, but in terms of changes, there just aren't enough improvements to warrant a higher one. Career mode needs to be improved significantly, for example, but in terms of a game for F1 fans across the world, this is definitely a hit.